The Business of Tennis
Like most sports, tennis has both a professional and an amateur component. In tennis, professional players are identified as those that are seeded, covered on sports broadcasts, and mentioned in the sports sections of newspapers whereas amateurs are those who play for fun and recreation on private and public courts. Ticket sales, event attendance, sponsorship, and prize money are the more important numbers to track when studying the business aspects of professional tennis while participation, equipment and apparel sales, along with dues for clubs and fees, are the numbers used for tracking the amateur business.
Amateur participation in tennis seems to have peaked - at least for now. In 1985 there were about 13 million tennis players by 2002 the number of players had not quite doubled to over 23 thousand. 1 Unfortunately according to the 2012 Statistical Abstract (Table 1249) that number seems to have declined. A breakdown of the figures by gender shows that in 2002 the number of men playing was higher than the number women players and while that disparity hadn't changed as published in the 2012 Statistical Abstract (Table 1249), the numbers were closer. There was one change that was interesting. In the 2005 Statistical Abstract figures on participation by age show the highest participation among those aged 12-17 and 35-44. 2 However, in 2009 the highest participation rates were in the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups. 3
Issue 3/4: Summer 2005
Updated May 2013
Table of Contents
General Guides and E-Resources
Billie Jean King playing tennis at Wimbledon, 1964
N Y World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
Reproduction number: LC-USZ62-115635
On the professional level most of the business focus is on the many professional tennis events - attendance, media rights, etc. While the most well known events are the Grand Slam (the Australian Open, Wimbledon, French Open, and the U.S. Open), there are also a host of other events that offer prize money including the men's Davis Cup. Revenue comes from media rights, gate revenue, attendance figures, and price money for all of the Grand Slam events.
The media rights play a large part in the revenue though they don't play as large a role as they do in other sports such as golf. The sport does have its own cable channel although it was only launched in 2001 so numbers aren't as high as they are for the older and more established Golf Channel. The past few years has seen women's tennis generate higher ratings than men's tennis. Media rights are the highest for the Grand Slam events but many other events are not even televised.
In 1990 total expenditures for tennis equipment (racquets and balls) was $333 million and by 2007 it was just under $450 million. After that 2007 peak, revenues dropped and projected figures for 2010 were just over $360 million likely due to the poor economy so figures should improve as the economy does better. 4
As with other sports, there are web sites devoted to selling of equipment, including Rayco Tennis and Don Sherwood Golf & Tennis, which have brands behind them, and tennisexpress.com and tenniswarehouse.com, which sell many brands for all equipment. There are also other vendors selling specific equipment such as Dunlop Sports.
The Association of Tennis Professionals runs the men's tour. It consists of the Grand Slam events, 9 Masters series and the International Series Gold and the International Series. Events other than the Grand Slam events include: the Davis Cup, Tennis Masters Series events like Miami Ericsson Open, and International Series events like the Dutch Open and Mercedes-Benz Cup.
The Women's Tennis Association is the organization in charge of the women's tour. The tour includes the 4 Grand Slam events, as well as 9 other Tier I events and numerous other Tier 2-5 events. Events other than the Grand Slam events include: The Fed Cup, the Tier I events like the Miami Ericsson Open, and the Tier II events like Adidas International and the Los Angeles Open. Attendance at women's events has been outpacing attendance at men's events while prize money for women's events is still considerably less though steadily growing.
1 "Selected Recreational Activities: 1985 to 2003," Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2004), Table 1240.
2 "Participation in Selected Sports Activities: 2002," Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2004), Table 1241.
3 "Participation in Selected Sports Activities: 2009," Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2012 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011), Table 1249.
4 "Sporting Goods Sales by Product Category: 1990 to 2009, and Projection, 2010" Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2012 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011), Table 1250.
Back to Top
Established in 2003, the site covers news and also provides player profiles, scores of matches, video clips, tournament information, and television coverage, etc.
Provides general information on the sport of tennis.
Includes a look at the men's and women's games, as well as other general and historical information.
Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)
The governing body of men's tennis. The section on Player statistics
includes information on prize money.
American Sports Builders Association (ASBA)
Founded in 1965 by a group of contractors and called the United States Tennis Court & Track Builders Association, the organization is a centralized source for information on tennis court, track and indoor sports facilities for builders, manufacturers, professionals and consumers. Includes information on finding designers, builders, and other related professionals.
Club Managers Association of America (CMAA)
The CMAA has more than 6,500 members who manage more than 3,000 country, city, athletic, faculty, yacht, town and military clubs. There is an online buyers guide, a section on professional development, and a marketplace.
International Tennis Federation (ITF)
The ITF is the governing body of tennis with 202 member National Associations covering men's, women's, juniors, and seniors. Under the Circuits you can find player statistics (under the player tabs)
Tennis Industry Association
United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA)
Founded in 1927, the USPTA has 12,500 tennis-teaching professionals
worldwide. Most of the web site is directed to tennis professionals but does
include helpful links to related web sites.
United States Tennis Association (USTA)
Begun in 1881 as the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, the USTA represents professional tennis players. Also includes the USTA Yearbook
Women's Tennis Association (WTA)
Governing body for women's tennis. Includes news and in the rankings section, information on prize money.
Back to Top
"The 2013-2018 Outlook for Tennis Equipment Excluding Apparel, Nets, and Shoes in the United States." Icon Group International, Inc., January 2013.
Publisher web site
Covers the latent demand outlook for tennis equipment excluding apparel, nets, and shoes across the states and cities of the United States but does not report actual sales data. There are reports on tennis equipment and other related reports from this publisher.
The Business of Tennis. Carmel, CA : Kagan World Media, 2002.
LC Call Number: GV1000.B87
LC Catalog Record: 2002206051
"Global Tennis Equipment Manufacturing Industry 2012-2017: Trend, Profit and Forecast Analysis." Lucintel, July 2012.
This is a market research report looking at the global tennis equipment manufacturing industry which experienced a decline from 2007-2012 but is expected to witness slow growth over the next five years (2012-2017).
Tennis. Trumbull, Conn. [etc.] Miller Sports Group LLC [etc.]
LC Call Number: GV991 .T42
LC Catalog Record: 72625860
Coverage includes breaking news, scores and commentary as well as reviews and instructional videos.
United Professional Lawn Tennis Association Yearbook. New York, NY: Zimman, 1962-.
LC Call Number: GV1001.U57
LC Catalog Record: 91662126
Issued under various titles, the publication reviews both the men's
and women's games, in addition to providing other general and historical information.
USPTA membership directory of men and women tennis-teaching professionals. . Houston, Tex. : United States Professional Tennis Association, c1995-
LC Call Number: GV1001.2.U6 U55a
LC Catalog Record: 96660117
Includes a directory of professionals as well as other general rankings and tournament results.
Additional works on the tennis business in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the subject selected. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog. For assistance in locating the many other subject headings which relate to tennis as a business, please consult a reference librarian.
Last Updated: 05/21/2013